The stars the night before whispered me a promise of blue skies and sunshine. Their word was made good. Getting that damned fire started was the job of The-Curly-Haired-Blonde-Girl-with-Whom-I-Live. She was creating some kindling from the logs we had bought. Our hatchet was not sharp enough, regardless of the viscous talking to I gave it, and the metal file. Turns out she was also spraying them with insecticide to get them to stay lit. We got the fire going and cooked bacon and potatoes and scrambled eggs. The coffee came up cowboy style, meaning you either let it sit, or filter it through a paper towel, or both. Our Man Clint had a Natty. Can. I wanted to yell, “Beer for breakfast, Two-Bit?” but I though it would have come off as condescending when I had to explain my vague reference, ( not giving it to you here, either). Now I wish I had at least given him the respect of a shot.
It was the first full day of Wanee. That meant the ceremonial dress was called for. The kilt and the Allman Bros. cowboy hat. That get-up got me a yes to a marriage proposal a year earlier. All I’m saying.
We started our day on the great lawn of the Peach Stage. I had known Bruce Hornsby from his days with The Range and his hit Mandolin Rain. I heard his improvisation and Jam style on the radio and really gained an appreciation for his roots. The lawn was packed. The guys on front of me said it best, “I need a nice energetic set to get this day going.” The fella, cant find the word, next to him was the freak show for the morning. Amid the dreadlocked white folks, and blue fairies with wings, the walking dead, the half naked and Frisbee jocks, this guy stood out. The mpb and tight-form mustachio with JustforMen fadeout, the bright green polo (starkly contrasted logo) collar popped, stiffly popped, was a beacon. In the bright cloudless day, he was a beacon. The unfortunate thing about this from the get go was that he did this intentionally. The little cartoon whale playfully spouting water in it’s uncanny, nonchalant needlepoint playground that was a belt. Vineyard Vines. Parrot-Heads think this site is corny-white-people-shit . The belt was only visible because the polo was tucked in (to his underwear no doubt). Let me say right here that I know how meant this section is, but it’s for his and your own good. Yes, It is. And the shorts that fucking belt was keeping up were were so short I thought I may have seen his…anyway. The pale man thighs just kept getting slathered with sunblock, over and over again he did it, ankles (no socks, duh) calves man-thighs, bald head…over and over again. The capstone on this altar of awkwardness was the bag hanging on the back of his chair, it was embroidered with the logo and seal of Harvard Graduate School of Design. That’s the bag you bring to Wanee. Alright, I’m done. That was unfair, but seriously, you should have seen the poor man.
Hornsby was great. He also honored Levon Helm with his rendition of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. It was seriously moving. It’s a great song, done right you can’t go wrong. I never thought I would have reverence for an account of seeing Robert E. Lee’s ghost and one Virgil Cain’s account.
We left that stage to go to the Mushroom and see British blues savant Matt Schofield. He could summon lightning like Thor’s hammer from his guitar. I had never experienced him before and I’m glad we did. The early afternoon air was cool and the sky was as clear blue as my son’ eyes. The seats we left there the night before were still there. They always are. (read on) Its one of the great things about Wanee. People will sit in them and keep them for you when you are away and immediately get up and say thank you when you get back. I was embarrassed at how surprised I was that this worked so well. It’s part of what spawned Conservative Hippyism. We sat in the shade and bobbed our heads to the beat. The-Curly-Haired-Blonde-Girl-with-Whom-I-Live bobbed and weaved until she fell asleep for a few.
We returned to the camp-sight for lunch. Kielbasa and sauerkraut did the trick, and we made it back for one of big draws and favorites of ours: Tedeschi Trucks Band. My only complaint is that while Susan Tedeschi has a couple of solos, this band doesn’t let her go crazy like I know she can. Her voice might be proof of divinity. Her husband’s unmatchable slide guitar and fierce aggressive style is proof of a lower power. It’s blues and Gospel with proof instead of a warning.
We stuck around for Furthur. They were a headliner and responsible for the VIP tix selling out. With Phil Lesh and Bob Wier of the Grateful Dead at the wheel, the Boomers came in full force. The yuppie sector apparently got the memo as well. The age range went up my at least two administrations. Widespread Panic the last two years drew younger crazier SpreadHeads. The DeadHead faction mostly hold jobs and have become all they they thought they were fighting in their youth. Further opened with Not Fade Away, got the crowd singing along from the beginning. The next hour and a half was nonstop jam. From song to song, Fire on the Mountain to Touch of Grey, it was a 90 minute session set. Impressive as hell. The dread locks were flying everywhere. The ocean of tie dye ebbed and flowed in the changing beats and rhythms.
We used the set break to go have some dinner. We fried the leftover Indian food we had stopped to eat on the ride up, and washed it down with chili and wiener. Some boiled cowboy style coffee and we were right back to the stage. The Brothers were coming on soon and we didn’t want to be late for that. Thank goodness we rushed or we might have missed the hour delay. As reconciliation the set was peppered with appearances by Susan Tedeschi and Bob Weir. They gave us Midnight Rider. I announced that Devon’s version the day before was better. The lady in front of me said that was the third time she and heard that and that Bruce Hornsby’s version was good too. I had left to early to hear it that morning. The Levon Helm tribute, “The Weight” went off pretty good. Blue Sky is a favorite, especially when mine was there with me. It was a blessing to be able to sing it to her and have the Brothers back me up. The highlight of the performance was the impromptu pirate pyrotechnic display. During a guitar duo by the great Haynes and Trucks team, mortars launched from the crowd and exploded in burning hydrangean sunrises. It surprised the band too but they seemed to get juiced up. Only at Wanee is it not okay to bring your own drinks into the fairgrounds, but explosives in close quarters are alright, man.
We made the trek over to the Mushroom stage and claimed the seats that were so graciously being kept warm for us, and watched about an hour of Particle. These guys have been imitated, but never outdone. Conspirator the night before is even a little different. Particle does what they do best. The drummer is constant and energetic, the guitars are improvisational and melodic, the whole thing is conducted by the keyboardist and computer/laser jockey. The Mushroom after Midnight was incredible this year, and Particle was the High Point.
We got on the trail and back to the site about 1:30 am. A long great Day of Music was behind us, and there was another one just like it coming with the sunrise. We conjured fire one more time and ate some marsh-mellows before crashing to sleep.